Friday, June 29, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the delicate balance between not caring what others think & caring what others think (as with most things, both can have positive and negative aspects). We all fall on a spectrum between caring too much and not caring at all, which of course varies depending on the situation, our confidence level, our investment, etc.

But I’m throwing this out for fodder today…
Where do you land on the spectrum between not caring & caring what others think? And of course, tell us why…



*photos by stock.XCHNG
**I’m taking a blogging hiatus next week. I’ll be mostly offline. See you in July! Happy 4th!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

8 Adventure Moods I Get in and What They Reveal about Yours Truly


I have an adventurous spirit. Did you know that about me? Maybe not, but you could have guessed, right?

With this spirit I have moments when I get swept up in a certain frame of mind. I want to get out there and ________________.
Because I happen to enjoy reflecting, and I do it about as often as you check FB (ha, like that?), I took a closer look at what these moods might actually mean. What they might say about my current state. What would inspire me to want to run with the bulls, scuba dive, or sky dive?

And here’s what I came up with:
Mood to Whale Watch

I’m eager to see something big happen, something spectacular and memorable. I want to be front row center with binoculars for a better view. I’m anticipating God to move in an impressive way.
Mood to White Water Raft

Seen the movie Brave? Any thoughts? Okay, never mind that distraction for now, brave is what I’m feeling when I ache to hit the rapids. Brave and ready to navigate through the sharp turns in life. Prepared to use a little brain power and muscle to push through.
Mood to Go Up in a Hot Air Balloon

I’m craving to rise above my circumstances. Hot Air Balloon Mood kicks in when I want to see things from a unique perspective.
Mood to Speed in a Boat

There’s nothing the world like feeling air whooshing in and out of my lungs while reaching top notch speeds on a boat. It stirs life in me, reminds me how free I am, and almost always causing me to instinctively raise my hands to the sky. Soaring.
Mood to Hike

It’s in these moments I’m thirsty to accomplish something. I’m set to pace myself as I move toward a specific goal and I’m willing to work for it.
Mood to Run a (half) Marathon

Why do I get in these moods? Why? Why, I say. This is when I need a good test of my patience. My subconscious is reminding me all good things come to those who wait (and who run until their chest burns and they risk peeing on themselves at the end of the race).
Mood to Bushwhack through the Wilderness

This mood hits when I’m desperately in need of clearing out clutter in my life. Wish I could bushwhack through social media sometimes, as well as my thought life, and a slew of other intangibles.
Mood to Travel to the Ends of the Earth

I’m hankering connection with different cultures, willing to mix it up a little. I desire the varying landscapes of this earth to remind me how small I am.
Do you have an adventurous spirit? Ever think about why you get in the mood to do certain things?

*post inspired by conversation with Michelle DeRusha onTwitter
**photos by stock.XCHNG

Monday, June 25, 2012

Throwing in the Towel


Sweat-soaked and spent of energy, I toss my damp towel on top of a mountainous pile in the hamper labeled Towels.
“Excuse me. You can’t do that.” A lady rises from her hunched over position, where she was apparently conspicuously reading a novel. She picks my towel out of the pile and extends it out to me in her arms like an offering.
“Can’t do what?” I’m late and in no mood to argue.
“You can’t throw your towel in there.”
“Why not? It’s clearly marked towels. I’m throwing in the towel.”
She’s still holding my sweat-stained towel. “No can do.”
“But obviously many people have before me.”
“But they’re not you.”
Disgruntled, I scratch my neck, hoping to distract myself from the irritation crawling over my skin like ravenous red ants. I huff, “Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do?”
“Take a guess.”
“Seriously? I’m done. I’ve worked out, put in my time. I’ve got nothing else to give, lady. And I’m not really in a guessing mood.”
She blinks. Suddenly, I notice something decipherable about her. Her unusual eye color and the twinkle reflecting off the stud jewel in her nose. “Okay, I’ll bite. You do look a little familiar.”
“Ha, that’s funny.”
“Care to tell me why?”
“Because you made me.”
“Okay, this has officially gotten weird. I’m throwing in the towel and taking off. Nice to chat.” I flip around. As my hand slaps the glass door marked Exit I’m flooded with recognition.
“I do know you.” I turn around to face the lady head on.
“Yep.”
“So why are you here, at this gym—by the towels?”
“I had a feeling you’d show up someday. You need me here now.”
“Are you going to spill your name or am I going to have to guess that, too?”
“That’s a little tricky.”
“Right. Tricky because…” I wait her out hoping she’ll fill in the blank.
“Because I’m all of ‘em.”
I stare at her unruly auburn hair, the sharp slope of her nose, even the way she’s standing, as though her hip might jump from its socket and she needs to hold it in place. She’s not kidding. “I didn’t know that was possible.”
“Neither did I—seeing you, that is. I confess I’m a little in awe of seeing you for the first time. I don’t know whether to thank you or to run from you. But instead of thanking or running, I think I’ll just give you this for now, then call it a day.” She pushes my towel into my hands. “It’s yours. You’re not finished yet. In fact, you’ve barely just begun. Now get out there and write me well.”
I press my face to the damp towel and rub my eyes, still shocked at our exchange. When I turn around to thank her she’s gone. But the enormous pile of towels has grown even higher. Surrendered stories. Writers who quit before their time.

Not me. Not today.

I intend to thank her after all, by honoring her request…to write, and write, and write her well.

Have you ever had an unexpected person remind you not to quit?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

Friday, June 22, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

You meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in twenty years. As soon as you find her seated in the restaurant she slides you a note. It’s translated:

I’ve lost all recognition of the English language. But please, tell me about your life.

How would you respond?

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

8 Tips to Propel Yourself Forward in Publishing

Respect the Mystery
Ever seen Toy Story? Remember the claw? This is how I like to think books get selected in the publishing industry. Randomly. Mysteriously. And instead of spending time badmouthing others, claiming I write Einstein compared to their Sponge Bob drivel, it’s better to respect the mystery.

Take timing, skills, market need, platform, and a little pixie dust and there you have it—the books that make it.

Take Care of Who You Know
You’ve heard the expression it’s all about who you know. Well, not exactly. It does nothing to know people for the sake of getting ahead, for crab-stepping over others on your way to the top. It doesn’t matter if you’ve befriended unpublished women who love to read or bestselling authors. No matter whom you come in contact with, treat them well. With kindness, respect. Heck, throw a little pixie dust on them. We all could use more of that.

Refuse to Believe it Won’t Happen (in other words Believe it Will)
I have absolutely no doubt my time is coming. I’m not a prophet. I’m not egotistical or unrealistic about my skill set. I often have days when I look at my work and cringe. But I work hard, refuse to quit, nurture a spirit of learning, and hold onto hope like an old lady does her purse. In fact, I often use hope to clobber lies over the head much like said old lady.

Polish up on Craft by Reading Books
Read well-written work. Read books on craft. Read to your kids. Read left. Read right. Read in the day. Read in the night. (Am I reminding anyone of Dr. Seuss’s The Foot Book?)

Invest in Time to Write & Be Willing to Sacrifice
Write. Write. Write. 'nough said.

Meet Face to Face
Go to conferences. I loved meeting my agent in person. I met her before she was my agent. I always think fact-to-face impressions improve your chances in this industry. A passion for your novel shows when you’re pitching it. Your ability to connect with others and care shines through in especially noticeable ways in person, too.

Reach Out
Send that random note raving to the author whose book you loved. Friend that writer on Facebook. Follow that editor on Twitter. What could it hurt? Take risks. Life is short.

Embrace a Spirit of Learning
Above all things (I write this because the publishing industry is ripe with moments for us to learn), embrace a spirit of learning. So much is turning on its head in this industry. Interactive books. Houses being gobbled up and bought out. Amazon (need I say more?). Self-publishing morphing from the red-headed stepsister into Cinderella. It’s worth it to pay attention, take notes, and keep an open mind. Recently I got put to the test on this. And I want to pass with flying colors.

What others ways can you think of to help propel yourself forward in publishing?
*photo by stock.XCHNG

Monday, June 18, 2012

Alice in Wonderland Starring as the Question Where


See Wendy. See Wendy’s brain. See Wendy’s brain play.
For the past few Mondays I’ve been playing with well-known stories from childhood, matching them up with a W question. Today Alice is Where…

Alice follows a rabbit down a rabbit hole. She finds a small key, and a bottle labeled “Drink Me”. Upon doing so she shrinks. Then she eats from a cake labeled “Eat Me” and grows until her head hits the ceiling.
Where is the queen of confusion. Without direction, Where is willing to dabble in all kinds of temptations.

Alice cries so hard and so much she swims through her own tears.
Where has a way of producing direction from within.

A crowd of animals gets caught up in the tear river with Alice. Dodo convinces them all the best way to dry off would be to run in circles. Alice frightens the animals away by talking about her cat.
Where can only tolerate running in circles for so long. She craves a firm destination. Sometimes Where has to talk her way through things.

The White Rabbit shows up frantic, looking for the Duchess’s gloves. He calls her Mary Ann and orders her inside where she grows again. Alice eats pebbles she mistakes as cakes and shrinks back again.
Where is influenced by what she intakes, all she allows herself to ingest.

Alice asks the Caterpillar who she is.
Where loses a sense of herself readily.

The Cheshire Cat appears directing Alice to the March Hare’s house. When the Cat disappears, his grin stays floating mid-air.
Where’s been known to seek out guidance from unusual and unexplainable creatures.

Alice is a guest at the Mad Tea-Party. Tired of riddles, she leaves the party.
Where likes to party. But Where also tires easily of shallow, pointless prattle.

Alice stumbles upon the Queen of Hearts who claims to hate white roses. She’s invited to play croquet with the queen—an encounter that amounts to nothing but chaos. The Queen goes around saying “Off with their head.”

Where isn’t always certain she’ll end up in a peaceful, non-combative place. Where is familiar with chaos.
Alice meets the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon.

Where has a tendency to wind around new bends and bump into all sorts of characters.
The Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. Alice grows larger during the hearing.

Where unpredictably gains confidence and grows into something unexpected.
Alice is called up as a witness. The Queen orders her gone b/c she’s too tall. She refuses to leave. The Queen yells “Off with her head!”

Where knows when to stand her ground.
Alice is unafraid to call them what they are—a pack of cards.

With miles of navigated terrain behind her, Where begins to learn to see things for what they are. She becomes fearless.
Alice’s sister wakes her up for tea. Alice leaves her sister on the bank.

Where knows when it’s time to move on.

"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10

Why do you think I chose Alice to star as Where?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

Friday, June 15, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Where do you begin?

*photos by Stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

8 Signs You Are Falling into the Comparison Trap


Have you ever been cruising along on course until at once a vine entraps your leg yanking you down what feels like an endless hole? Yeah, hasn’t really happened to me either. Except metaphorically it has. Seems to be a regular thing for my cognitive labyrinth. Par for the course for writers. I think it’s because we’re highly attuned to our surroundings (yeah, that’s it).
No matter, it happens. We’re all vulnerable to fall into the comparison trap. It’s one thing to challenge ourselves, to engage in healthy competition, but it’s something else entirely when our self-worth and our sense of being tumbles into the trap. It’s important to remain on guard for vines desperate to tangle around our ankles and holes that appear out of nowhere.

8 Signs You Are Falling into the Comparison Trap:

Souring Outlook
When the world tints from a lyrical “What a Wonderful World” to “Welcome to the Jungle” then you know you’re likely about to hit quicksand. Sentences in your head go from “Man, what a beautiful day” to “I’m sweatin’ like a beast.” Optimism straight down the elevator shaft to pessimism central.

Shrinking Dream
Directly tied in to your souring outlook, lately you’ve also discovered your dream seems like it’s been shoved in a Ball jam jar with the lid sealed tightly on it. Your dream used to be giraffe tall, bounding across expansive plains. Now it’s a barely flickering firefly.

From Curiosity to Obsession
At first you just convince yourself you’re checking in on “her” so much because she’s your competition. “Little healthy competition never hurt anyone, right?” Not so fast. You’ve gone from a sneak peek to setting up camp on her yard, on her website, heck you’ve practically braided yourself into her hair. Time to back away from the so-called competition and evaluate the two “I”s. Investment and intention. How much time are you investing “comparing” and what are your intentions?

All about Numbers
In my industry social media has become the new “it” craze and following numbers can get a little addictive. It’s easy to lose perspective. To click on Google Analytics in the morning, noon, and night. To feed your numbers craving by assessing your Facebook page stats, blog stats, Twitter stats, heck even Pinterest stats (why leave Pinterest out of this?). Surefire indicator your foot is slipping, when numbers become your god.

Waning Love of Vocation
You used to pounce out of bed, excited to reach the drawing board. To have a crack at the craft. But you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling. It’s petered out like a Fourth of July sparkler. And to what do you owe this waning feeling? You’ve set yourself up against somebody you’re not supposed to be—some role you’re not meant to fulfill and it’s lights out for you because of it.

Green Grass Syndrome
My neighbor planted the most beautiful flower bed near her driveway. I look at it every morning in admiration (and a tinge of jealousy). Her grass is green. Her grass doesn’t have grubs. But then I visit with her and she tells me about all the other kinds of pests she deals with on her lawn. It’s never as green and bountiful as it appears, trust me.

In Want
Suddenly you are paying much more attention all you don’t have. Commercials hold more appeal. Women look prettier, glossier, with killer mascara. Moms are carrying gorgeous bags and sporting those TOMS canvas shoes. Everyone seems to be with it but you.

Seeking Validation from All the Wrong Places
We all like validation. It’s part of our wiring, to hear that we’re doing okay, that someone is proud of us, etc. But at some point we need to know and trust our own steps on the path. If you’re constantly looking behind you, to your side, or up ahead for someone to nod before you take another step, be warned that next step might very well be down a gaping pit.

What happens when you’ve fallen into a trap? It’s immensely difficult to get out. That’s why it pays to know when you’re close to losing ground. So you can stand firm, then move in the right direction at the right time. Have you experienced any of the above?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chocolate on Your Pillow


Every so often I feel it’s valuable to check in, to ask pertinent questions to make sure I’m doing all I can to keep you coming back. To keep moving your thoughts.
With that said, I’d love if you’d provide a little feedback today.

Which posts do you get the most out of:
A. reflections on faith
B. writing-related posts
C. personal stories or accounts
D. creative, hard to categorize posts (what I like to call “brain play”)
E. encouraging & inspirational posts (faith, life, mothering, writing, etc.)
F. culturally relevant pieces
G. carefully selected guest posts
H. book talk (reviews, commentary or insights about books I’m reading or have read)
I. Moving Thoughts Friday questions
J. I 8 Wednesday lists of 8

Anything else you’d like to see more of? My inquiring mind wants to know…what keeps you coming back to Thoughts that Move?

*next Monday I promise Where will finally make her debut (see previous Mon. posts)
**I appreciate your feedback!
***photo by stock.XCHNG

Friday, June 8, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday--Novel Choice

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.
It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

End each day reading a novel that is sure to give you freaky dreams
or

Start each day reading a novel with yawn-inspiring prose & lacking big time in the plot department?

*photos by Stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Which Muppet Writer Are You?

8 Muppet Writers

I had no idea what I wanted to post today so I slipped into stream of consciousness mode. What a zoo it’s been around here. Zoo. Right, animals. Animal. But of course, the Muppets.
And I landed here:

Which Muppet writer are you:
Miss Piggy

You are destined for stardom. New York Times Bestseller list here you come. You’ll shove your way to the top. Funny thing though, you often shift from an overly charming confident scribe to a fury-filled diva in a matter of seconds. “Never Before.”

Kermit
You greenie, you. As a newbie, you still care enough to be conscientious with a side of timid. You go for laughs, but in that sweet, innately likable way.  I know you’ll find your connection in the industry. Why? Because you believe. “The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

Fozzie Bear
As a humor writer you often end up the butt of jokes. You’re the target of ridicule when your funny flops. Though even though your “Wocka Wocka” isn’t always Ha Ha Ha Ha, you remain loyal to other green writers like Kermit.

Gonzo

You celebrate chickens everywhere. You root for the underdog, seeing intrigue and value in the little guys. You aren’t afraid to write your passion. Even in your bluest of blue days you remain optimistic and hopeful in the industry. You’ve a good head on your shoulders, Gonz, and a mighty interesting nose (for marketing) to boot.
Beaker

Oh woe is you, Beaks. Mee Mee Mee Mee. Your work has been rejected, turned down, blown up, ignited, and utterly destroyed by critique partners and editors alike. You view your role as merely a shy assistant, afraid to bravely step out and claim your voice. You attract negative consequences. No wonder, Mee Mee Mee seems like a pretty selfish expression, Beaker. Gotta work on that.

Rowlf the Dog
With your dry wit and your go with the flow, laid back attitude you know how to jam out a mighty fine novel. You’re cool, calm, and collected. And you know how to groove with the changing publishing times.

Statler & Waldorf (old guys from balcony)
This is your left and right brain at war. Your editor self fighting with your creative, free-flowing self. You heckle. You throw mental tomato zingers. You’re downright disagreeable. And to think, this all takes place right inside your own brain matter.

Animal
Okay, I kinda love you, Animal. You write from the gut. You’re outrageous, and not at all one to feel compelled to write to the market. Heck, you’re a wild one with intensely unique methods of expression. Like I said, I kinda love ya!

And now I want to knowwhich Muppet writer do you identify with most? Least?

*photo by flickr


Monday, June 4, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood Starring as The Question Who

So I’ve been mixin’ it up a little around here. Several Mondays ago Hansel & Gretel starred as the question why. Today Little Red Riding Hood makes her debut as the question who. This has always been one of my favorite things about blogging. I get to publish my brain play.

Hope you glean something from it…
Little Red Riding Hood as Who:

Because Little Red Riding Hood is especially close to grandmother, her mother asks her to take her a bottle of wine and cake to help her illness. (Wine, hmm.)
Who aims to please, seeking out ways to connect and unite with others.

LLR’s grandmother lives deep in the woods. A wolf meets her on the path. Her mother told her not to stroll from the path. LLR doesn’t understand the extent of the wolf’s wickedness; therefore, she’s not afraid of him.
Who can be easily deceived, wanting to believe the best in people (or wolves for that matter). It takes Who time and experience to discern.

The wolf asks where LLR’s going and what she has in her apron, then where her grandmother lives. LLR tells him exactly where.
Whether from naivety, lack of experience, or will to trust, Who has been known to be easily manipulated.

The wolf thinks LLR a “tender young creature”. They walk together as the wolf points the beautiful flowers in the woods.
Who is prone to distraction, prone to wander.

RRH strays off the path and picks flowers for her grandmother.
Who strays, sometimes with the best of intentions.

The wolf escapes RRH and runs to the grandmother’s house, tricking the old lady into thinking he’s RRH.
There are always circumstances occurring outside of Who’s awareness and realm of judgment.

RRH gathers so many flowers she can hardly carry them all.

Who is about to find out even best intentions can carry grave consequences.

LLR has an “uneasy” & “strange” feeling upon entering her grandmother’s already open door.
Who’s instincts have already equipped her with far more than she understands.

LLR mentions her grandmother’s big ears, to which the wolf replies…the better to hear you with.
Who gets a red flag, its pole lodged in her throat.

LLR mentions her grandmother’s big eyes, to which the wolf replies…the better to see you with.
Second red flag.

LLR mentions her grandmother’s big hands (which is altogether funny b/c wolves have paws), to which the wolf replies…the better to hug you with.
Three strikes & you’re out? Not quite, Who has one more observation, careful not to be too quick to judge.

She mentions her grandmother’s big mouth, to which the wolf replies…the better to eat you with.
Ding. Ding. Ding. Who is convinced. No more Hoodie Nice Guy. But it’s too late for Who.

The wolf swallows LLR.
Who is often swallowed up by outside influences. Who becomes lost in dark, scary places—when she’s surrounded by those lacking genuine care for her well being.

A huntsman stumbles upon the cottage and thinks perhaps the wolf has eaten the grandmother. He cuts open the stomach of sleeping wolf.
Who needs rescue.

RRH and her grandmother climb out of the wolf alive.
Who needs not fear permanent darkness. Who lives.

RRH fills the wolf’s belly with stones to weigh him down. The wolf dies.

Who acts on discernment, not letting the enemy defeat her.

The huntsman takes the wolf skin, grandmother drinks the wine and eats the cake, and RRH tells herself she’ll never leave the path again.
Who makes a plan.

During another skip through the woods, as RRH takes more cake & wine (gotta love it) to granny, a wolf attempts the same shenanigan.
Who is not immune to future attacks.

LLR & granny lock the wolf out. Wolf waits them out, intending to eat RRH on her way home. But the grandmother suspects his wicked plan.
Who is best with a partner, a helper, a friend. Two are better than one.

Granny hatches a plan for RRH to take sausages to a trough. Tempted by the meat, the wolf sniffs and falls deep in the trough.
Who’s enemies are predictable.

RRH goes joyously home.
Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance.” Ecc. 8:1

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13

Do you see Who in the Hood? Ever feel like Who?

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Friday, June 1, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday—Wocket in My Pocket?



Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

If you could carry only one thing in your pocket for the rest of your life what would it be?

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Introducing . . . The After Glimpse

Corrine Boulder, Landon Young, and Aria Glynn share something inexplicable in common. They’ve all lost loved ones two years ago to the ...